Are you stifling your creativity?

What does creativity mean to you?

I believe that creativity is being open to your ideas and thoughts. It is to create a piece of writing without your internal critic constantly making you edit, judge and delete parts.

Creativity, for me, is being able to get all my thoughts out onto paper without my own head getting in the way telling me the rough draft and my ideas are no good.

 So why is creativity so important?

When writing your first draft, it is just that. A first draft; not a final copy. A first draft should be rough, unedited and uncensored. Spew forth your ideas. The challenge is to type or write fast enough to keep up with the flow of thought in your mind and capture the essence of your story before it flies away.

Your creative side is what you tap into in order to write this first draft. Don’t get me wrong; you do need a critical component as well. But that should come later, when it comes to reviewing and editing your writing project. For now, let your creative side reign free and produce that masterpiece I know is hiding in your mind.

Stifling your creativity.

Creativity is easy to suppress. More often then not, our habit is to review and judge as we write. This restricts our creativity and creates a lot of difficulty when attempting to write your first draft. You worry that it is terrible, your ideas are lame, you are anxious because you don’t know which direction your book will take and that all the effort is pointless. You constantly judge and review before you give yourself the chance to capture those great ideas.

You need to learn how to silence this inner critic and editor during the initial writing stage. You need to trust in your inspiration and ideas, instead of rejecting them before they have time to evolve into a story. You must learn to embrace that vision and let it explode out without restriction.

A great way to loosen up and learn to shut out your internal critic is to “free-write”. Give yourself 5 minutes to jot down everything that pops into your head without editing or backspacing. It is a great way to let go of your inhibitions and loosen you up.

Creative vs. Critical Side

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to suppress your inner critic forever! You will need that critical thinking when it comes time to review and edit your novel. However, once again, you need to be able to tap into that creativity. As you write and revise you will need your creative side to produce better and stronger images and words. Editing and reviewing your novel will take a fine balance between your critical and creative sides, and the only way to become better at it is to keep practicing! The more you do it, the better you will become.

 
The moral is, don’t let your own self get in the way of that great novel hiding inside of you.

 

Where do you find your Inspiration?

Where do you find your Inspiration?

Following on from last week’s post “Was Thomas Edison Right?” I started thinking about inspiration. I want to know where you find your inspiration? When your well of idea’s dries up, you are staring at a blank page with no creative flow, or you hit writers block during a project, where do you go or how do you spark those creative thoughts again? How do you overcome the dreaded idea drought?

No matter how much you love writing, and are enjoying your current writing project there will always be times when you suffer from a lack of inspiration. I know I do. I have a myriad of different sources for re-sparking the idea process to help the words flow again. For me, it depends on the mood I am in and also why I am suffering from the so called writers block, which technique I use. Every person is different, so will find different means and ways to find inspiration. Below are a few of my favourites that I have found invaluable during my writing journey and career.

Writing Warm-Ups

There are hundreds of writing warm-up exercises that are designed to loosen up your creative muscles and aid flow of thought. Some of my favourites are free writing, word jar and random word link. I find that they help me to relax into my writing, so when I turn back to my current project the ideas and words flow so fast my hands can barely keep up typing.

Books

I love to read. I could spend hours and hours curled up in one spot with a good book. And one of the best things about reading is you can draw inspiration and ideas from the plot, characters, setting, dialogue or themes of the book. If you find you are stuck, try reading a book by your favourite author or even branch out into a different genre.

Movies

Much like reading, movies can inspire great ideas for your next book. You may enjoy the lead character so much you decide to model your main character on them. Or a certain scene or dialogue may set off those creative sparks and before you know it you have outlined your next book!

Art

I don’t know about you, but I find looking at photos, prints, sculptures and paintings to be a great source of inspiration. What story is the artist trying to say? What emotions are they conveying? What does the scene/character/setting tell you? What would happen next? You can ask these questions, and more. Write it down if you want, you never know your next story may start taking form.

Blogs

Reading other blogs on any topic you wish can help jolt your brain into creative mode. Whether you are stuck for ideas for a blog, article, novel, and short piece or content, someone else out there is sure to have some inspiration for you.

History

Don’t know what your next novel should be? Try reading up on some history. There are many stories waiting to be told, whether fiction or non-fiction. Sad, happy, tragic, triumph, good and evil; our history holds many different themes and rich characters that combine to create inspirational stories.

Honouring our soldiers, Australian War Memorial, ACT

Honouring our soldiers, Australian War Memorial, ACT

Maheno Shipwreck, Fraser Island, QLD

Maheno Shipwreck, Fraser Island, QLD

Exercise

I find turning my mind away from writing for a while is a great way to develop more ideas. Go for a run, to the gym, a yoga class or any form of exercise you fancy and work out your physical muscles. Sometimes the ideas hit me whilst I am working out, other times they don’t hit until I am in front of the computer or journal again. Regardless, exercise is a great way to clear your head and work out any frustrations you have with your writing.

Walking/Nature

Take a stroll outdoors and marvel at the great outdoors. Appreciate the beauty of the landscape around you, whether it is rural or city. Use it to clear your mind and as a source of inspiration. Write what you see, smell, hear and feel.

Autumn colours

Autumn colours

Cross by the Lake

Cross by the Lake

Walking along the beach at Jarvis Bay

Walking along the beach at Jarvis Bay

Journal

Writing in a journal has long been recommended as a source of inspiration and a way of keeping your ideas together. It is a great way to get all the junk clogging up your brain out. Cultivating the habit of writing in your journal daily helps to clarify your thoughts, and ensures you never forget a great idea again! Write down your thoughts, inspirations, over heard dialogue, plot ideas, characters, dreams, or anything else you want. Read back through your journal whenever you hit a slow patch or writers’ block for ideas and inspiration.

Shower

I seem to always have my best ideas when I am in the shower, which is unfortunate as there is no easy way to record them whilst showering. It is also a great way to relax tired and achy muscles from hunching over a computer.

People Watching

People are always a great source of inspiration. Find a place to sit where you can quietly observe those around you. Listen to the way they speak, walk, laugh and sit. You can develop characters from those around you. Not to mention you may overhear some great story that serves as inspiration.

And finally…good old Google!

Simply search the topic you are currently writing on and you can find tons of great resources to help you out.

 

So there you have a few of my favourite techniques to help with inspiration and creativity. I would love to hear where and how you find inspiration!

 

 

 

Was Thomas Edison Right?

Was Thomas Edison Right?

Most people will have heard the famous Thomas Edison quote:

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”.

But how true is this for you?

I believe that inspiration gives you a starting point, the sudden flash of an idea that forms the skeleton of a story. But after that, it is your craft, skills, hard work and a lot of elbow grease that will see you over the finish line. Without that follow through and hard work your spark of inspiration will stay just that; a simple idea, an ephemeral dream, a flicker of light burning in your mind.

That is not to undervalue the need for continual inspiration. Inspiration provides the fuel to keep you going and the drive to finish your writing project. Once you have that initial idea the hard work starts of the planning, development, writing, re-writing, editing and formatting. However, along the way you may find you suffer from writers block, lack of motivation, doubt, or simply being uninspired. This is where perspiration (from all your hard work) can lead to inspiration. It sounds counterintuitive, but it is true. Once you start planning, writing and editing, once you gain momentum with your writing project, then further inspiration will follow. You all know what I am talking about. You may be editing a scene, dialogue or descriptive passage when you get another flash of brilliance, you can see it all unfolding in your mind. Or maybe you are stuck on a certain scene, so you take a break from staring at your computer. Perhaps you go out for a walk, when inspiration hits you again. You can see that scene as though you are living it yourself. And suddenly the words flow out of your mind, faster then your hands can keep up.

So for me, Thomas Edison had the right idea, but not the right balance. I think it is more like a 30/70 split. The initial inspiration would be nothing without perspiration. It is what you do with those idea’s that matters, and then to build on those ideas and write a best seller you need a little more inspiration.

So do you think Thomas Edison was right? Is genius one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration?

 

 

 

 

Where do you write?

Where do you write?

I have read many articles and blogs about treating your writing as your job. Which of course, it is if you are trying to make money from it! These articles and blogs talk about setting up a space in your house, or even to rent an office, where you can go to write.

I don’t know about you, but I cannot do this. For one, our house is simply not big enough for me to have a dedicated place. And for two, I believe that as writers we have the absolute luxury of taking our writing wherever we go. Laptops, journals, pens, books are all so easily transported. If it is a nice day out, then go write in the park! If it is wet and miserable then curl up on the couch. Where ever you are comfortable is where you should write! When it comes to writing, I think being relaxed and comfortable is more important then a set spot you write every day. Not only that but a change in scenery can be key to overcoming writers block and prompting your creativity.

I do not dispute the need to treat your writing as a job and try to stick to regular hours during the day, and not slacking off. But the plus of working from home is you can pick and choose your hours and where you work. As long as you get the work done!

20160312_111520

I was recently on a family trip away, and when inspiration struck I had my computer there to tap away on for an hour or so. The view from where I was writing was breathtaking. We were staying right on the river, and were surrounded by the native Australian bush. It was quiet, peaceful, and calm. The words flowed out of me as swift and true as the river in front of me.

I have said it a million times, and I will say it again. Writing is a very individual process; you need to find what works for you. If it is setting up an office space, then do so. If, like me, you enjoy taking your work with you and writing wherever you end up then embrace it! Use everything around you to inspire and create.

So where do you write? I would love to see a photo or hear about your writing space and where you go to create!